All stories on ‘Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories’ occur within a small diner, where the characters sit and discuss their lives and daily ordeals.

If you love Japanese food you should be watching this show on
Flix Review Friday, June 08, 2018 - 19:05

There are few relationships in this world that last a lifetime. Most connections we make come with an expiry date but not this one. If you haven’t guessed it already, I am talking about our everlasting relationship with food.

Sure, food is a necessity but there are certain dishes or cuisines that we fall in love with and never really forget. For me, it is my relationship with Japanese food, and when someone recommended a Japanese show about food I was sold.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is a show on Netflix which tells heartfelt tales about people in modern day Japan. The commonality between all these stories is that they have a particular dish at the centre of it.

The plot of each story is quite simple: the owner of the diner, known to his customers only as ‘Master’, opens his restaurant only from midnight to 7 am. Master serves only pork miso soup as a rule, but will make anything his customers ask for – provided he has the ingredients at hand. Each episode is loosely based around these dishes and tell stories of people who are customers at the diner, both regulars and visitors.

All the stories occur mostly within the premises of the small diner. The characters sit in the diner and discuss their lives and their daily ordeals. From mundane to sensational, nothing is taboo within the premises of the diner; this is a place where people can let their guard down. The ambience of the diner is warm and welcoming. It is low-key but what adds to the ambience is the cast of regulars who dine in and out in each episode.

The Master is mostly an observer, content to sit back and enjoy his beer and cigarettes in the kitchen as his customers talk amongst themselves. He comes in to offer advice only when asked for. His advice often serves as a turning point in the story as well. The format of the show is such that it leaves one with a lot to think about; it is up to us to derive meanings and imagine the life of the characters outside the diner.

Midnight Diner is a look into Japanese culture through its cuisine. It explores heavy themes such as love between individuals of two countries, regret for a life wasted and the struggles of parenthood. But all this is done with a deft touch and a lot of heart.

The show is nothing like the American and British shows one might to be used to. The narrative style and even the acting takes a bit getting used to but the results are rewarding.

In the middle of all the storytelling, the show is filled with spectacular cooking shots. The sizzle of garlic in a pan, the sound of a knife touching the cutting board, the glisten of a dash of oil – they captivate us and make us salivate. You can almost smell the food as it is being prepared. It is akin to a hit of dopamine.

The show is bound to make you crave Japanese food. So if you are in Bengaluru, you can head to Fatty Bao (the chaisu ramen here is divine) or Harima (one of the most authentic Japanese joints in the city). And if it’s hot pot you are looking for, you can satisfy your cravings at The New Leaf restaurant on Church street. Or Shiro, Ido, Mamagoto, the list is long.

But before you head out, do yourself a favour and binge-watch this phenomenal show. The themes might sound heavy and depressing, but they all have happy endings, always delivered with a fourth-wall breaking ‘Good night’ to the viewer.

Also read: The women of 'Kaala': How Pa Ranjith's film breaks gender moulds in Tamil cinema

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